Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Power in Being Nice (a focus on benevolence and authenticity)

Whew honeys did you re-cooperate from the holidays yet? lol I've been running around getting stuff done, working things out with my team figuring out what's next.

Lots of great news to share- not to mention the excitement behind it all. Goes to show what a tough mindset and unstoppable perseverance can do.

As you know, I've been active in donating art to a few organizations for their fundraiser auctions. I think it's important to contribute and give whenever you can whether it's to organizations, supporting friends, and just helping out whenever you can, however you can.

In fact, my reputation is built on benevolence and giving a helping hand. Which adds up in the swing of things because when opportunities are presented the art communities in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and beyond have been amazingly supportive in providing nominations, references, etc.

The years in LA have seared unforgettable, but necessary lessons and experiences. Although last year was a tumultuous year of fake friends; adversity; trickery and changes, it was also full of love; support; loyalty; opportunity; and clarity. The experiences have inspired me to "step it up" and accept responsibility for all of it. In accepting true responsibility for all that's happened, it's allowed me to also accept true possibilities.

Accepting responsibility means knowing that all decisions and consequences, in the end comes down to me. Not everyone is perfect but when I do mess up, I step up and make whatever it takes to make it right. You have no choice, because your reputation depends on it. If it means admitting that I'm wrong, I suck it up and admit it. If it means others keeping you accountable, I suck it up and take it. Because in the end it's all about sculpting the best version of me that I can be. Accepting responsibility and being held accountable does that.

Living in LA, you see a lot of crap. Better yet, being a creative in LA or NY is like stepping into a hurricane and holding on for dear life. In witnessing others who lie; manipulate; connive and burn others on their way to so-called "success", I know within my heart it's short-lived and only a matter of time before it all comes crumbling down. I mean, look at Enron. lol

You can only go so far before a reputation built on manipulating others begins to work against you. Those people have to constantly reinvent themselves in new cities and surround themselves with new people forever running away while hiding behind a facade- what a pathetic way to exist. Believe me, I've encountered many fitting that description as I'm sure you have too.

What I realized is that those people are running away from themselves- from facing their own authenticity. Or perhaps it's because their own authenticity remains so unbearable that they must keep running in the first place. lol

Throughout all this came a revelation strengthening my commitment to two things- my art, and approaching the journey with benevolence. As I discover womanhood through being an artist, you come to side with a few things- particularly, what you stand for. It's not easy to remain committed to one's beliefs when everyone else is telling you how to best live your life.

The adversity I've survived is an accomplishment. Yes, an accomplishment. Without it I couldn't have given my full loyalty and commitment to this art life nor to approaching it with full servitude and benevolence.

It forced me to question my own authenticity. What is "authenticity"?

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines authenticity as:

"1 of undisputed origin; genuine
• made or done in the traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original
• based on facts; accurate or reliable
• (in existentialist philosophy) relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life."

What stuck out for me were the following words- genuine; reliable. But especially the last definition, "relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life". That is freaking beautiful! No wonder so many people run away from themselves cuz they can't stand to deal with who they are! lol

You see, authenticity is genuineness. It's real. Furthermore, it's about being real and keeping it real. Authenticity is a being. Some may argue authenticity as being apart of someone's style, blah blah, but we're not talking about that here. We're talking about authenticity as an attribute of genuineness.

I knew having a benevolent authenticity for family, friends, collectors, colleagues, supporters, fans, and the world in general was part of my nature. But how do I utilize my love for the world and benevolence on a much bigger scale through everything that I do? Especially through my art?

One book has especially influenced me in my business philosophy- The Power of Nice by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval. Though business-world is presumed to be a world of dog-eat-dog, sharks, and wolves in sheep clothing- I found it against my nature to trample over others on your way to the top as a practical accepted mode of success. So when I found this book, I was so relieved that you can win and get to the top by being nice. In fact, the authors of this book built their whole company around this philosophy. Always having gone against the grain anyway, this was perfect for me. Yee!

So you ask, how has keeping it real all these years helped me? How has being nice contributed to my career?

What's come of it is a solid team of seasoned professionals most of whom I've known for a decade that's immersed themselves to be apart of this team as they've witnessed my persistence and "no-matter-what" attitude. These professionals specialize in legal, accounting, management, PR, grants/residencies, and artist representation. I am beyond honored to have attracted such a phenomenal team of outstanding professionals. Their survey of my character over the past decade gave me unspoken credibility that didn't need persuasion simply because benevolence builds trust.

Currently, my work has a presence in Atlanta, Houston, and Los Angeles. The team is spread out across the US with numerous allies including collectors, curators, and critics, amongst other supporters. There are ten galleries who have shown interest in the Porn Flowers and ready to discuss showing them. Six curators ready for new work to put in shows; a waiting list of existent commissions; a list of people "interested" in commissions; interviews I have yet to respond to; a few celebrities said they were fans. And, the crazy thing is, I haven't even started the targeted marketing campaign I was planning on implementing yet. Yee!

What did I do you ask? Three magical questions plus an enthusiastic, friendly attitude: "How can I support you? What can I do to help you? How can I make things easier for you?" That's it. *shrug

Calling people and reaching out to them; volunteering; donating; being there for others; contributing, supporting, encouraging, lending a helping hand; being a good friend; going out of my way to network and hook others up for stuff in support of making their dreams come true... That's what I did. I guess all those love seeds I threw out there finally began to sprout, huh?

Recently, I was at an art opening and ran into an artist I'd been familiar with but never had the pleasure of meeting (we were in a few shows together). I was standing there catching up with an old friend of mine and when this artist introduced himself, we both acknowledged each other and was delighted to have finally met. Then he said something that caught me off guard: "You're so sincere-I hope it's real" then looked to my friend for validation. My friend vouched for me that my sincerity indeed, was real. Later that week I ended up helping this artist with some feedback and insight concerning some challenges he was facing proving that my sincerity is real.

Sure, I've had to show my Bunny fangs and raise some hell when I've been tested, but it's just not my style to go around trampling others to get ahead. I consider that cheating. People often tell me, "Yun, you're too nice". The truth is, it works for me. Being nice, sincere, genuine, and authentic is how I've gained the opportunities, connections, and relationships I've been fortunate to receive.

In this world of dog-eat-dog business acumen, being nice has worked for me. It has helped me stand out amongst the crowd. Sure, some people are hesitant upon first meeting me and don't quite know how to respond to my bubbly sincere happiness- but after the fourth or fifth meeting when they realize it's unashamedly consistent, they start to open up. Hee hee.

The point is: I don't mind watching malevolent hares dig deep holes for themselves burning bridges left and right trampling over others in the race to success- although the hurt they cause others disappoints. I'd rather remain as the benevolent tortoise that lays a firm foundation based on integrity, contribution, and service. After all, my team and I are building a legacy-- and not interested in fads. lol

No comments: